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Mol Immunol. 2000 Jun;37(9):527-36.

Co-expression of interleukin-2 and green fluorescent protein reporter in mycobacteria: in vivo application for monitoring antimycobacterial immunity.

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Division of Urology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02215, USA.


Recombinant Mycobacterium bovis bacillus Calmette-Guérin expressing green fluorescent protein (rBCG-GFP), driven by the mycobacterial heat shock protein 70 (HSP 70) promoter from an autonomously replicating plasmid, was genetically engineered to co-express mouse interleukin-2 (IL-2) by introduction of an independent HSP 60 promoter. To monitor host antimycobacterial immunity, C57BL/6 mice were intravenously infected with IL-2 expressing and non-expressing GFP rBCGs. Both rBCGs were clearly imaged and easily quantified with ultraviolet microscopy of tissue sections and whole organ suspensions. Enhanced mycobacterial clearance from the spleens of mice infected with the rBCG-IL-2/GFP strain was apparent by both diminished bacterial counts and spleen weights during the first 6 weeks post-infection relative to rBCG-GFP. T helper type 1 (TH1) cytokine production and proliferative response to BCG restimulation was also elevated from in vitro splenocyte cultures taken from the rBCG-IL-2/GFP-infected group. Taken together, these results suggest that IL-2 expression from rBCG augmented host protective immunity to mycobacterial infection via an enhanced TH1 immune response. Mycobacterial expression vectors that allow simultaneous but independent production of reporter proteins and bioactive substances provide an ideal means for monitoring the in vivo fate of recombinant mycobacteria.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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